Teens, Violence and Unemployment; a Terrible Combination  

So, the job market is tough, it’s tough on everyone. But one group I hadn’t even considered seems to be even harder hit than the rest of us, it’s teens.

Job losses for teens over the past eight years have been severe for nearly all major demographic, socioeconomic and geographic subgroups. Younger teens (16-17), males, blacks and Hispanics, and those in low-income households are most at-risk of joblessness this summer.

There’s been a rise in teen violence this year in DC. Teens have been mugging District residence at an alarming rate in just about every ward of the city. Sometimes, the crimes are not even motivated by money, but rather, just to beat the crap out of someone.

In fact, the police chief has been trying some really controversial measures to curb the violence. For instance, police have been granted the authority to knock on residents doors in Ward 8 (my old neighborhood) to ask if they can search the home for guns or drugs and then there’s the new measure, “safe zones” which the Washington CityPaper complained that…

… it strains the mind to imagine how this will do anything other than displace crime, and send a very clear message to kids growing up in D.C. that the police already think they’re criminals.

Of course, if you live in Hill East, Trinidad, Congress Heights, or on the Southwest Waterfront, maybe you’re hoping that you’ll be in one of these “safe zones.” But, I digress. The issue here seems to be kids, just hanging around. And it’s kids of all ages. This has been a problem before, but now, we’ve added to the mix high gas prices, high food prices, and now, little to no summer employment. And this isn’t a uniquely DC problem (we do have a summer jobs program for teens), it’s happening all over.

Take for instance a friend of mine back home who owns an ice cream shop that’s attached to her family owned restaurant. She wanted to give teens a chance at employment with a summer job at their ice cream store. But, she noted to my mother that over the last couple of years almost everyone that she’s hired has ended up stealing from the shop or directly from the register. And, according to the Post article , her issues don’t seem to be isolated

SnagAJob also found that managers who do plan on hiring are less than impressed with teens' work ethic. More than half of those surveyed (56 percent) agreed with the statement that "today's youth do not have the same work ethic as previous generations have had."

I don’t have a solution to the problems here, I just know that I have a teen who walks dogs and for her, it’s employment, I’m just wondering lately what kind of world she and her generation is inheriting from us. As of right now, it’s looking more and more like one they’ll need to fix with universal health care, stronger employment laws and one that has to take a really determined look at the global market and how it shapes all of our lives, especially how Free-for corporations-Trade. Sure seems like it’s a big mess to clean up.

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